After avoiding Covid for 2 ½ years my wife and I caught a mild version and had to stay in quarantine in Italy for a week. So no great desire to write about week 5 of the Super Series, especially after Exiles for the second week in a row made a complete mess of their game. When I saw the Pingvin team coming up to play us on week 5 my immediate assumption was that this was a pretty poor team and that Exiles would win comfortably. Pingvin had two good players red-carded and rumours that a few Georgians did not wish to travel seemed to be confirmed. After 20 minutes Exiles had scored three tries and were leading 17 – 0. From our vantage point in Italy we relaxed and expected an easy win. In actual fact, despite a fairly strong team Exiles added no more points for the next 60 minutes, conceded two goals and a penalty and watched as James Campbell dropped a goal with a minute to go to win 20 – 17. Exiles rushed down the field and were given a penalty 7 meters in front of the posts. Instead of taking the draw Exiles ran aimlessly and gave away a penalty a yard from the line. An outstanding achievement by Pingvin who lost 4 – 5 players to injury but never gave up. If Pingvin win the title and Exiles lose it, this is the match they will both point to as decisive. A second poor display in a row by Exiles who must take 5 points from Troján in round 6.
Turning to the half-way house, Pingvin make another trip up North to Enköping who won a five-pointer in round 5 down in Norrköping. The standings after 5 rounds are now Pingvin 21, Enköping and Exiles 14 with Troján out the picture on 1 point. A win for Pingvin would start to make them look like favourites while a win for the two teams on 14 points would keep the top three teams within 2 – 3 points and all to play for.
The big game is obviously in Enköping which let´s hope attracts a decent crowd. Enköping have Cameron King back again, now as captain, and he and Oscar Proos will be facing the top class pairing of Honou and Mamulashvili who will be moving up to replace James Campbell, perhaps having a well-earned rest from last week´s endeavours. Bebiashvili who got the decisive try against Exiles last week is also now a starter on the wing. The red-carded hooker Margalatvili returns this week and will be looking to repeat his try-scoring feats of previous rounds. Oscar Larsson is still banned and a couple of good Georgians still seem to be missing. Pingvin is, I would say, only marginally better than the one against Exiles, but they managed to get away with four points from that one.
Enköping are a bit short in the forwards, missing Elias Granath, but are close to full strength in the backs. I can see this going either way although for obvious Exiles´ reasons I´d like to see the old-timers in the Enköping backs pull it off.
Exiles are not quite getting it right this season, although it didn´t help that they lost six first team players in match 2, only one of whom Ian Gowland has returned. Four of those injured in that match had a total of nearly 50 SM-titles which I quite a volume of competence. Exiles has a strong back division on show and a solid pack including a couple of 2 meter Mabons.
Troján are obviously struggling at present with not too much of a bench. Melander is turning out again, this time at full back and Sami Paulsson continues in the centre. Any less than a five-pointer for Exiles would have to be classed as a catastrophe, but after the last couple of weeks, who knows?